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Dutton claims Queensland border closure is 'all about the election'

Politics

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claims Queensland is keeping its border with NSW closed to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19 before the state election.

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The federal Coalition Government and the state Labor Government have been caught up in an ugly stoush over the border closure for months, ahead of the October 31 state election.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to cave in to pressure to reopen to all of NSW, saying the Chief Health Officer has advised her that all of the southern state is a COVID-19 hotspot.

But critics say that doesn’t make sense with few cases of community spread outside of Sydney.

Dutton claims Palaszczuk is acting for political advantage rather than on health advice.

“It was always based on the fact that Queensland is going to an election in a few weeks and the premier was desperate to make sure there was no outbreak,” he told Nine’s Today program on Friday.

“Fair enough if you’re acting on health advice, I have no problem.

“But I have called the Queensland Government out where they’ve made political decisions that have negatively impacted on the lives of not just Queenslanders, but people want to visit a sick spouse or a child who’s in hospital.”

His comments come a day after Deputy Premier Steven Miles said there was “a conga line” of federal ministers attacking the Queensland government over its “strong and effective” measures against the virus.

From Friday, the state is allowing up to 30 people to gathering without a COVID-safe plan and people can visit aged care homes and hospitals.

As well, ACT resident can now fly to Queensland without having to go into quarantine.

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner of specialist Operations Steve Gollschewski reminded visitors from the nation’s capital they can only travel by air and must have a pass.

“At this stage, you can’t drive through the remainder of NSW. It’s still a hotspot, except for the declared areas. They will need a G-Pass,” he said,” he told Nine’s Today program.

“They can fly in, they can expect to be still processed at the border. Police will check they have a valid pass.”

Queensland has recorded no community spread of the virus for more than 14 days and reported just five active cases on Thursday.

-AAP

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